Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Using Up Buttermilk: Carrot Cake Pancakes

I am still using up buttermilk! This morning I made Carrot Cake Pancakes from the January/February 2010 Cooking Light magazine. I love carrot cake and my mom makes the world's best! We don't like pineapple or raisins our carrot cake, but if you do, you could easily add them in to the batter. The only thing that would have made these better is some kind of cream cheese topping -- I was too hungry to bother. I'm calling these "healthy" because there is very little sugar and a whole lot of carrot. You could definitely substitute in some whole wheat flour to make them even healthier.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Make It Homemade: The Perfect Pita

I have been messing around with homemade pitas since last summer. I love the idea of a simple homemade flat bread that is quick and easy and delicious. They were anything but! Oh, they were delicious, but they were not quick and easy. They also were not proper "pitas" because I could never get them to puff correctly (thus creating the desired pocket). I tried them on the grill. I tried them in the oven. Nothing worked. I went back to buying pitas in shame.

And then I decided to try no knead, artisan bread dough. I should have known. That bread dough is hands down the most versatile "pantry staple" in my kitchen. It makes absolutely perfect pitas.

I took a handful of dough and rolled it as flat and round as I could get it (using plenty of flour!). I popped the flattened dough right on to the rack in my toaster oven and baked at 450 degrees. A few minutes later -- POOF! I took the pita out, put it in a basket and kept it well covered with a towel to keep it soft. I varied the sizes and shapes to find the perfect size and ended up being able to cook 2-3 at a time. There was one pita leftover and it was still soft and delicious the next day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Choosing the "Right" Milk, Part 1

In the past few months my family's milk consumption has dropped significantly. My three year old simply prefers water to drink. My one year old has a hard time digesting milk (but does just fine with yogurt, cheese and ice cream). Our pediatrician recommends only 16 ounces (or two glasses) of milk per day (per kid, of course!) We have slowly whittled our way down to drinking a half-gallon of milk per week.

The shrinking of the milk drinking has led to two side benefits. First, my kids are eating a lot more food, particularly my three year old. Before I started watching her milk intake, she would down a glass of milk before a meal and then not be hungry enough to eat. This severely limited her intake of protein, fruits and veggies. Second, because I no longer buy gallons of milk each week, I am able to focus on the quality of milk we are drinking, which means I can afford to purchase organic milk.

As I have become a consumer of organic milk, I have begun to pay attention to the differences in milk. I have found that there are approximately five different types of milk available (not to be confused with the "varieties" of whole, 2%, 1%, no fat, etc): regular pasteurized homogenized; hormone free pasteurized homogenized; organic pasteurized homogenized; organic ultra pasteurized homogenized; and raw. I started doing some research on the above types of milk and will share what I found in part 2.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Using Up Buttermilk: Angel Biscuits

I had never heard of Angel Biscuits prior to last week. Basically, they are biscuits made with yeast. The beauty of these gems is that you can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks! Just take out however much dough you need, and bake. My dough turned a little gray after few days. My artisan bread dough does that after a few weeks. It doesn't change the flavor or texture of the biscuits.

I have come to the conclusion that, in general, I roll my biscuits out way too thin. I always have issues get a nice, fluffy biscuit and it occurred to me while rolling out my Angel Biscuits, that I could probably roll them out less. With the help of that idea and the yeast, these were by far the lightest and fluffiest biscuits I've ever made.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Using Up Buttermilk: Cinnamon Scones

I mentioned in last week's Menu Plan Monday post that I had some buttermilk to use up. I received a number of ideas and found some really delicious, new recipes to add to my repertoire. I did not think I was a big fan of buttermilk, but now I may just have to keep some in the fridge at all times because I do not think I can live without these scones!

This recipe comes from my friend, Melody. Actually, Melody and my husband did their undergrad degrees together and re-connected via Facebook. Turns out Melody and I have tons in common (like KNITTING!) and when she sent me a ball of handspun yarn, I knew I had new friend (if only via Facebook). Melody also has a son named Miles (almost exactly one year younger than our Miles) and obviously very, very good taste in cooking!

Honestly, these scones are TO DIE FOR! I almost didn't try them because the the cinnamon chips were $3.19! But it was worth every single penny! Keep your eyes peeled for cinnamon chips and when you find them, snag them and some buttermilk and make these scones. I promise, you won't be sorry!

I baked the scones in triangle form, but I left them mostly connected. Don't do that. Cut them apart and move them away from each other a bit. The middle of my round was still not baked while the tops of the wedges were nice and done.

And don't skip the egg wash/sugar. It really is the icing on the cake!

Cinnamon Scones
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1 cup cinnamon chips (1/2 pkg Hershey's cinnamon baking chips)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or thicken some milk w/ a little white vinegar)
Eggwash: 1 egg white and 1/2 tablespoon of water
Sprinkling of sugar

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, baking soda.
Cut butter into dry ingredients.
Mix in cinnamon chips.
Mix in buttermilk with a fork.
Gather dough into a ball and knead lightly on a floured surface for 2 minutes
Pat lightly into 3/4" high disk and cut into 8-12 triangles, or use biscuit cutter to make rounds, taking care when gathering remaining dough together to NOT overwork.

Beat egg white with 1/2 tablespoon water slightly and brush the tops with egg wash.

Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 425 F for 14-15 min.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookie Goodness

I really love to cook and bake, but, I have a hard time with cookies. They almost always end up flat and overdone. I am definitely still learning when it comes to baking the perfect cookie. When I saw a recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies on one of my favorite blogs, Annie Eats, I eschewed my past cookie failures and leaped in with both feet. The reward was delicious!

This recipe was written for the cookie inept. I turned the cookie sheets half-way through. I only baked until the cookies were just brown and puffed. I let the cookies rest for 5 minutes on the sheets. PERFECTION AT LAST!

Just a few observations:

1) The recipe calls for "quick cooking" oatmeal, but I used plain old fashioned rolled oats. No one has complained yet.

2) The recipe notes that the filling is just barely enough for the cookies. I had 27 cookies and tons of filling leftover, but I may have skimped in fear of not having enough. Guess I'll need more cookies!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Off My Needles: Viking Hat

This is knit with Lion Cotton (brown) and Caron Simply Soft (gray). It was super easy and quick! The pattern is for sale here. I do all of my circular knitting using Magic Loop -- I never even learned to us DPNs. I have never had a problem "converting" a pattern written for DPNs to use Magic Loop, but this one was a challenge with the decreases and the horns. I've done both decreases and short rows with Magic Loop, so it is possible! This pattern just doesn't lend well to mindlessly following along.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

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